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The biggest and best attractions in the Pikes Peak Region 

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click to enlarge Check out the area’s mining history at WMM&I. - COURTESY WESTERN MUSEUM OF MINING & INDUSTRY
  • Courtesy Western Museum of Mining & Industry
  • Check out the area’s mining history at WMM&I.
There’s a reason more than 20 million tourists come to check out the Pikes Peak region annually, and why more than 460,000 people call Colorado Springs home. Since Colorado Springs was founded in 1871, its natural beauty and increasingly attractive cultural experiences have been a magnet for those looking to relocate someplace where the sun shines 300 days a year and there’s too much to do to get bored. Even Springs natives may have missed out on some of the region’s coolest attractions, so here are some must-sees, whether you’re passing through, new in town or a native who just needs to get out more.

Museums and attractions

Naturally, the history of the Pikes Peak region is tied to the history of the Wild West, for better or worse. To get a glimpse of where we came from, check out the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. Alongside exhibits about Native American and black history in the region, our reputation as the “City of Sunshine” and more, you’ll find the museum’s most comprehensive ongoing exhibit, The Story of Us: The Pikes Peak Region from A-Z. It presents the area’s history alphabetically and explores everything from our various natural disasters to our connection to silent film star Lon Chaney.
click to enlarge Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center201 S. Fairview St., Woodland Park, rmdrc.comExplore some very, very early history with a short drive up to Woodland Park, where the Dinosaur Resource Center shows off fossils from North America’s Late Cretaceous period — 100.5 million to 66 million years ago. Skeletons of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, marine reptiles and fish are displayed alongside models and interactive exhibits to help you get the most out of your visit. Occasional family activities offer STEM education that goes beyond paleontology. - COURTESY DINOSAUR RESOURCE CENTER
  • Courtesy Dinosaur Resource Center
  • Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
    201 S. Fairview St., Woodland Park, rmdrc.com
    Explore some very, very early history with a short drive up to Woodland Park, where the Dinosaur Resource Center shows off fossils from North America’s Late Cretaceous period — 100.5 million to 66 million years ago. Skeletons of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, marine reptiles and fish are displayed alongside models and interactive exhibits to help you get the most out of your visit. Occasional family activities offer STEM education that goes beyond paleontology.
Other museums offer more specialized experiences. Check out the Western Museum of Mining & Industry for equipment, photographs and artifacts from the region’s rich mining history; enjoy the feats of athleticism immortalized in the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame; or head to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center to see an impressive collection of Southwestern art.

Tourists and locals alike also get a kick out of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, which was originally founded in 1926 by philanthropist Spencer Penrose. Throughout its near-century of operation, it has become a bastion of environmental conservation and community engagement, with plentiful animal attractions and activities to enjoy, including a cool opportunity to feed the zoo’s famous giraffe herd 365 days a year.

Natural wonders

click to enlarge Space Foundation 
Discovery Center4425 Arrowswest Drive, 
discoverspace.orgWe’re lucky enough in Colorado Springs to host the world headquarters of the Space Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the teaching of all things space-related — from the history of the U.S. space program to current strides in astrophysics and exploration. The Space Foundation Discovery Center boasts a variety of neat exhibits from space suits to interactive Mars rover play sites, and special events invite families and adult nerds alike to have fun and learn. - COURTESY SPACE FOUNDATION
  • Courtesy Space Foundation
  • Space Foundation 
Discovery Center
    4425 Arrowswest Drive, 
discoverspace.org
    We’re lucky enough in Colorado Springs to host the world headquarters of the Space Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the teaching of all things space-related — from the history of the U.S. space program to current strides in astrophysics and exploration. The Space Foundation Discovery Center boasts a variety of neat exhibits from space suits to interactive Mars rover play sites, and special events invite families and adult nerds alike to have fun and learn.
Obviously we have a lot of gorgeous scenery (see our hiking and biking guides for more specifics) but Pikes Peak stands quite literally above all the rest. Although our famous Cog Railway will be down for maintenance until 2021, the Chinese proverb “there are many paths to the top of the mountain” holds true here. You can drive or take a shuttle up the 19-mile road, stopping to snap photos along the way, or you can hike or bike your way up all 14,115 feet.

In 2018, construction began on a massive new Pikes Peak Summit Complex, so expect to see some work being done on the visitor center that has been in place on the summit since 1963.

After a visit to the Peak, you might enjoy a quick drive down to Manitou Springs, a bustling mountain town with a lot to offer (but limited parking, so click here to look into shuttle rides). Check out free, guided tours of the town’s namesake: its mineral springs. Once thought to possess healing properties, the springs each have a unique mineral content, which affects their taste. Guided tours will clue you in to their history, too.

click to enlarge Cave of the Winds is a local geological wonder. - MATT INDEN / MILES;
  • Matt Inden / Miles;
  • Cave of the Winds is a local geological wonder.
After traipsing around in the sun for a while, you might enjoy the cool darkness of Manitou’s other premier natural attraction, Cave of the Winds. The adventurous among you can take 90-minute guided lantern tours through the tunnels of this gorgeous cave system while learning its spooky history and folklore. Or, if you’re looking for a shorter or less terrifying trek, 45- to 60-minute family-friendly tours encompass a good half-mile of fascinating geological history.

Then, of course, every tourist must take a spin through Garden of the Gods. One of the region’s most iconic attractions, Garden of the Gods boasts rock formations that can provide the perfect backdrop for those family vacation photos, from Balanced Rock to the Kissing Camels. Not only can you hike or bike throughout the area, but you can also track down places to climb with Front Range Climbing Co.

Urban fun

click to enlarge Olympic Training Center1 Olympic Plaza, teamusa.orgMore than 130,000 tourists visit the Olympic Training Center each year, and until our Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame gets up and running, it is the major tourist attraction for fans of the Olympics making the pilgrimage to “Olympic City USA.” Check out the hour-long tours on offer and get a glimpse of the training facilities of the country’s top athletes. - COURTESY UNITED STATES OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
  • Courtesy United States Olympic Committee
  • Olympic Training Center
    1 Olympic Plaza, teamusa.org
    More than 130,000 tourists visit the Olympic Training Center each year, and until our Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame gets up and running, it is the major tourist attraction for fans of the Olympics making the pilgrimage to “Olympic City USA.” Check out the hour-long tours on offer and get a glimpse of the training facilities of the country’s top athletes.
Maybe the outdoors isn’t your thing? That’s okay! While there’s no doubt the natural beauty of the region is a draw, it can also simply serve as a stunning backdrop for more urban adventures. In recent years, the area’s major hubs have brought in more shopping, more art, more food and more breweries than we locals know what to do with. While you’re here, you might as well pick up a souvenir or 10.

In Colorado Springs’ downtown core, check out retail outlets like Ladyfingers Letterpress, a nationally recognized stationery store, with designs printed in-house by its owners Morgan Calderini and Arley-Rose Torsone, plus plenty of unique gifts. You can also check out Zeezo’s, a decades-old costume shop and vintage clothing store that’s worth spending hours exploring. Add onto this plenty more boutiques, and the retail alone can keep you busy. But that’s not all you can get up to downtown. Some of our favorite restaurants and breweries occupy the downtown stretches of Tejon Street and Nevada Avenue (see our food section here for some specific recommendations), and you can sign up for food and brewery tours at visitcos.com.

click to enlarge We love strolling Manitou Springs in summer. - VISITCOS.COM
  • VisitCOS.com
  • We love strolling Manitou Springs in summer.
Heading west on Colorado Avenue, visitors will love the quaint, historic elegance of Old Colorado City, which boasts some of our favorite galleries, retail spaces and restaurants. It’s just as fun to enjoy the architecture as it is to enjoy its many amenities.

Farther west, you’ll find Manitou Springs. After stopping in at the Manitou Art Center and the Manitou Springs Heritage Center to get a feel for the town’s history and artistic passion, you can take a stroll down Manitou Avenue and find restaurants and wine bars, a historic penny arcade, a place to snap Wild West-inspired photos, crystal stores and herb shops, a comic store and more. 

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